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Thread: Art of Decay

  1. #1
    Regular Member BunnyVoid's Avatar
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    Exclamation Art of Decay

    Can anyone suggest inspirational artworks (preferably paintings, no graffiti or modern art please) that depict decay?

    Thanks.
    I need it so that i can conceptualize a design for a city that is literally and figuratively in decay.

    Thanks again.
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  2. #2
    Palindrome Member ClockHand's Avatar
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    Goya's Saturn


    Friedrich Caspar David's Abtei im Eichwald.


    Peter Pauls Rubens, Daniel in the Lion's Den.


    Francis Bacon, Self Potrait.


    Shots from the movie Stalker by Andrei Tarskovsky.




    I don't want to tell you how to do your job or anything like that, but these are sugestions of ideas you might want to think when you work about "decay".

    Ruins as the conflict of man vs nature. Death(decay) as nature over men. If a city is mean of decay, does it mean is not for men or is over mens? Ruin as reason vs the unreasonable. Ruin as order (impose by men) over chaos. What I'm saying is that, decay is a concept, but ontologically has different features which can be taken from nature, irrational, chaos, etc. And with exploring the concept you can also explore the problem.

    There was also a architect (you might now it better than my) who said that ruins are the detachment of building to men, making them pure (I tried to find the quote but I was to lazy and busy to keep searching).

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    Ruler of the Seventh Empire GunZet's Avatar
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    Check out some of the concept art for Metro 2033.
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  4. #4
    Regular Member BunnyVoid's Avatar
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    @Gunzet: Thanks i checked it out already...

    Quote Originally Posted by ClockHand View Post
    Goya's Saturn
    I don't want to tell you how to do your job or anything like that, but these are sugestions of ideas you might want to think when you work about "decay".

    Ruins as the conflict of man vs nature. Death(decay) as nature over men. If a city is mean of decay, does it mean is not for men or is over mens? Ruin as reason vs the unreasonable. Ruin as order (impose by men) over chaos. What I'm saying is that, decay is a concept, but ontologically has different features which can be taken from nature, irrational, chaos, etc. And with exploring the concept you can also explore the problem.
    Thanks. Its fine, additional insights regarding concepts are always welcome. Actually, this is not for architecture school, just some random topic of interest which i would like to try.

    Its quite nice to see how decay can be interpreted in art. I'm trying to explore decay as an element of death but at least try and separate it from death itself.

    I got this idea when I thought of the phenomenon of separating soul from the body without the body dying. In a sense the body becomes a machine, because it is without the consciousness of the soul. This leaves the body in a machinic state that is unable to grow and actually "live" its life. I was having a hard time designing a place for it because all the ideas i put into paper become machine inspired... and machines are technological marvels that indicate progress. It cancels out the idea of constant decay, which is the opposite direction. hehe...

    I think decay can exist without death so I was looking for stuff that captured its essence. Then I'm going to interpret these elements in the design of a space that cannot be destroyed but is constantly disintegrating.
    In short, I was trying to envision a place for the undead.

    Quote Originally Posted by ClockHand View Post
    There was also a architect (you might now it better than my) who said that ruins are the detachment of building to men, making them pure (I tried to find the quote but I was to lazy and busy to keep searching).
    I have to admit that I don't really know much about architects lately, but i think i'm familiar with the concept. Thanks for that.
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  5. #5
    Palindrome Member ClockHand's Avatar
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    I think decay is actually a organic process on which you lose function. So something that has decayed is something that has lost it function, in which mean a robot can decay, as it can lose function, or a building as it can lose it too, but also decay doesn't mean death because you death is the end of all functions in which that object stop its functions and cannot gain a new one. So by example you can have a emotional decadence expressed on people who really can't feel empathy for others or love for themselves, as they have lose these primal features to interact, or you can have a society that is in decadent as they as society have lost the action of interaction.

    I wrote a story about something like this (not published or show) about this, but its rather about death, on how society deal with death and how this pursuit to fix it as a problem it actually bring the social decadence which come from beliefs, lost of social interaction or lost of reality.

    Anyway you need to propose what is decadence, with what is attached and so on. I don't see the lost of soul as a decadent thing (mainly because I don't believe in such a thing) because you need something that has a level of tangibility to be shown an soul is something you can't, you just believe on it or not, and as it doesn't have a ground of tangibility you are going to keep struggling on how the represent it and to do this you are always going to fell in religious things (from any kind of religion) as is the only context where this become something of relevance.

    But you can take this subject from different "paradigm", lets say you want to see things as order and reason, so decadence is unreasonable or chaotic, something you can't understand. This can also give you a connection to fear, as fear can have a correlation of the cognisitive and reasonable mind stressed by a unreasonable phenomenon (like death). Also it can be attached to nature as its a natural process of all living things which means that only organic life doesn't suffer of it, you can almost make a utopia view of the negation of decadence through the view of inorganic life. Or you can also take a paradigm that deal with decadence as the right thing to be, as something to accept and finally aspire, or just a final and ultimate nihilism.

    The deal is that, there is not one way to deal with decay, but I feel (personally) it need to be tangible, because at the end you need to be able to let the idea get across people.

  6. #6
    Regular Member BunnyVoid's Avatar
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    Yes I think it needs to be tangible. And the topic of decay is really diverse. I'm still trying to sort out things in my head to figure out what i really wanted...

    Quote Originally Posted by ClockHand View Post
    I think decay is actually a organic process on which you lose function. So something that has decayed is something that has lost it function, in which mean a robot can decay, as it can lose function, or a building as it can lose it too, but also decay doesn't mean death because you death is the end of all functions in which that object stop its functions and cannot gain a new one. So by example you can have a emotional decadence expressed on people who really can't feel empathy for others or love for themselves, as they have lose these primal features to interact, or you can have a society that is in decadent as they as society have lost the action of interaction.
    My thoughts about decay was something like that...
    The place I envision is more like a place for the useless souls (neither good nor evil). I sort of made it up for the project I'm working on. Its opposed to the concept of purgatory (where souls purge themselves to get to heaven) and an alternative to the concept of hell. It definitely falls into the religious category but I intend it only for fiction, not theory or anything...

    I think I'll explore the concept of decadence some more. Though it may lead me to more abstract that tangible elements, I'm quite sure there are a lot of themes which will help me sort things through...

    Thanks for the interest
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  7. #7
    One Thousand Member indescribable's Avatar
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    Teagan White has some great images relating to decay.

    SPOILER! :


    SPOILER! :



    Edit: (I know it's not exactly what you asked for, but I have always found her works to be quite inspirational.)
    Last edited by indescribable; 10-25-2012 at 12:07 AM.

  8. #8
    Regular Member BunnyVoid's Avatar
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    nice! thanks for the input :3

    its a really nice book that gives decay a simple yet profound illustration.

    I just have to say this:
    I really like Goya's Saturn.

    I've read more about it and I think it has the answers I was looking for.
    Goya painted it when he was old and felt strongly about his mortality.
    He painted it inside his house and seemed to not intend to show it to the public.
    His unconscious mind must have fought the conscious effort to restrict such feelings.
    I really liked that part.

    Now I think I shall attach the concept of decay and decadence to the loss of consciousness.
    When the conscious mind leaves the soul and body alone, I think it shall result to decay but not death.
    When the rational leaves the irrational, then a person will lose awareness of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories. To some extent, this will lead to a feeling of void. The person becomes a part of that void but at the same time he is not reduced to nothing because he is still alive with a soul and body.

    This is just for fiction btw. I was exploring the topic.

    Thanks for this. I just have to share.
    Last edited by BunnyVoid; 10-25-2012 at 04:06 AM.
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  9. #9
    Teacup Ninja Tots Cloudy's Avatar
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    The book thing is really awesome :O

  10. #10
    Palindrome Member ClockHand's Avatar
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    Thinking now after your new relationship with Goya (which is an amazing baroque painter), you should read Gottfried Leibniz, he is a philospher and mathematic who made some statements about art and his ideas are still related to the concept of "soul" (which you are attached to it), its quite interesting and if you complement it with Hegel and Kant vision on art, with some Romantic paints that goes to the Sublimity of Kant, you might get a more solid ground to develop your idea of "decay".

    mmm... rethinking this, I have always thought that Hegels dialectic doesn't hang too well with Kant Sublimity, but you could fix this with Frankfurt School dialectic.

    This is because Hegel states that the Thesis and the Antithesis are always in struggle till a Synthesis (new Thesis) is developed, and so the struggle keep going. But Sublimity is chaotic, so the ideas never become a Synthesis, which contradict Hegel's Dialectic, but Frankfurt school accept the fact of this, so ya, you should also read them.
    Last edited by ClockHand; 10-29-2012 at 06:10 PM.

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